Using a Doula at Kaiser

Parent Q&A

Doulas with experience with Kaiser Oakland and Walnut Creek Nov 4, 2018 (8 responses below)
Updated doula recommendations for Kaiser birth Aug 23, 2016 (2 responses below)
  • Hi,

    I'm going to be a first time mom and am looking for a doula who has a lot of experience with births at either Kaiser Oakland or Walnut Creek. I've heard it's helpful to have a doula who knows their system. Any recommendations are very welcome, thanks!!

    The doula I used was Lucy Yanow, who my husband and I picked after interviewing several (she was the first one we interviewed but then we interviewed a couple more just to be sure.) She was fantastic and very experienced with the Kaiser system. I'm hiding my username for privacy/internet searchability, but if you respond I'd be happy to DM you about details of my experience.

    I loved working with Ilka Fanni. She assisted me with my labor at Alta Bates this past June, and I know she has done multiple deliveries at Kaiser Oakland (not sure about Walnut Creek).  I was also a first time mom with a lot of anxiety about labor and she was knowledgable, caring, and very compassionate.  I would highly recommend her.  

    Our doula, Jessica Catano, was at the birth of both of our kids, one at Kaiser WC one at Kaiser Oakland and all was very well. I highly recommend her - 510.409.0541

  • Hello - I am looking for some recommendations & referrals for an east bay doula who is very experienced, and has attended many births at Kaiser, & can help navigate the ins-and-outs of a hospital birth. Also with massage/bodywork expertise.

    If you had a great experience with your doula, please share!

    Thank you for your suggestions.


    I recommend Full Circle Doula Group. They're based in North Berkeley and attend births at Kaiser and at Alta Bates and so are familiar with these setting and some of the staff and different OBs and midwives. I really loved them. They do a free info night so you can check them out. If you sign up they do a few free classes, that you can attend as much as you want, on preparing for the newborn, comfort measures during labor, and birth preferences. There are 3 doulas, Ann, Jenny and Rachel; Rachel and Jenny are both massage therapists.

    My doula, Jessica Catano, was there for 2 Kaiser deliveries, one in WC one in Oakland, and is a most excellent massage therapist on top of it - I highly recommend her!

    peacefuljourneys [at]

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Low cost doula for Kaiser Oakland

Sept 2010

I am 22 weeks pregnant. Without going into a long story, I am going through my pregnancy alone since the dad and I are no longer together, I am also French so I have no family here and I am a teacher's assistant which means I have a very moderate income. I want to have a doula to help me through these last few months, somebody who would feel a little more personal than the 5 minutes visits at Kaiser and also someone who can be there at the birth so the doctors don't force me into things I don't want to do !

The problem is that I can't really afford a doula, I just registered with Bay area Birth but i haven't heard anything from them. Would anybody have any recommendation ? If the doula spoke French it would be even better, my mum might come from France to be with me but she doesn't speak a word of English so it would be nice if my doula and my mum could communicate =) Thank you.

I used a wonderful Doula whom I absolutely adored. Her name is Monique Gorski and she spent a long time talking with me about other, less expensive options. I decided to use her in the end because I loved her so much. But I highly recommend calling her and she'll be happy to help you find a solution that suits your situation. Her website is Good luck! Emily

I am using Heather Lyn Wood for my upcoming birth at Kaiser Walnut Creek. She serves the bay area including Kaiser Oakland. She's a new doula (I think I will be her 4th client or so) but she is a very sweet woman with a great philosophy and gentle manner. I really felt like she was a good friend the first time I met her. I haven't had my baby yet, so I can't attest to that yet, but her fee is only $300 and includes the standard 2 prenatal visits, be available for your birth and staying with you as long as you need, and a postpartum visit. Heather was trained by Carol Shattuck-Rice and took Janaki Costello's childbirth course as part of her training, so she has been trained by some great people. Just an option - I know I was looking for as many options as I could get when I was looking for a low cost doula! Her email is: heatherlynwood [at] good luck in your search! Amanda

I have raved about our doula, Deanna, here before and I will again. We were her first Kaiser (Oakland) birth, but you would never have guessed. She was amazing. Our families are also oceans away and Deanna was a fantastic friend, confidant, advocate and cheer leader. She helped me have a drug-free, calm and quick birthing experience amid the chaos of an understaffed hospital shift change. She was also actually the least expensive of the ones I researched. Good luck with the next few months. mummy to two boys

Doula for Kaiser Oakland

April 2006

Can anyone recommend an excellent doula who knows the Kaiser Oakland nurses and facility and would be a strong advocate and also supportive of a wide range of pain management choices? I would especially be thrilled if my doula was able to prevent me from being delivered by a student. Brittni

Sorry I can't help you on the doula question, but I can allay your fears of being delivered by a student. I'm fairly certain that Kaiser Oakland does not have medical students in Ob/Gyn. It does have residents in Ob -- the residents have completed medical school, most are licensed doctors, and at this time of year they have anywhere from 1-4 years experience in OB (as of July, you get a fresh crop). Generally for uncomplicated births the residents do most of it, and the attending physicians get involved if there are complications.

We had a wonderful doula for our daughter's birth at Kaiser Oakland last October. Nicki Bonfilio (415 558 8471) was great. She worked really well with the Kaiser nursing staff - who also were great - and physicians. Lisa

Doula at Kaiser SF

Nov 2006

I am looking for a knowledgable, experienced, and helpful doula who would be available to assist in my labor. I'm due in March, 2006. We live in Berkeley, but plan to deliver at Kaiser San Francisco, if all goes well. I checked the BPN website and most doula listings for SF are old. Esther Gallagher, is highly recommended and sounds great, but we can't afford her fees which start at $2,000. Any other recommendations would be much appreciated. anne

Our doula was Michelle Welborn. We delivered a year and a half ago at Alta Bates in Berkeley, but Michelle actually lives in San Francisco and many of her clients are in the city. Her rates are reasonable, but I know it can sound expensive. She was the best thing we spent money on. We really liked Michelle's down to earth approach as well as her depth of knowledge. With her help, I had a natural birth at the hospital. But it was all her advice and hands-on help in the months before labor even started that was the most valuable. She's just a great person and we really liked her. Just call her up and chat about what you are looking for. Happy mama

Doula at Kaiser Walnut Creek

May 2005

Hello: I would appreciate a recommendation for a good doula to help with the birth of my second daughter around July 4 at Walnut Creek Kaiser. I had a bad experience with the birth of my first child there and am feeling nervous about being able to relax, mostly due to tearing/damage from the first birth. Even though the back labor in my last experience was awfully intense, I am looking for another natural birth without medication. I would like someone who is very patient, a good listener, and knowledgable about reducing pain and particularly avoiding damage due to tearing. windy

I had my baby at WC Kaiser last year with doula Virginia Duplessis. She was amazing. It was a 40+ hour labor and she stayed by my side the whole time. I had vomiting, back labor, a not so helpful husband, a bossy mom and she managed to keep me calm and as comfortable as possible. I really wanted a natural birth and had taken tons of yoga so I thought I would be prepared, but the pain was like nothing I had ever imagined. Virginia helped me stay focused and present. She also managed to use some stall tactics (in a good way!) when I started feeling like I wanted an epidural. So long story short, I was able to have my baby sans drugs! I really do not think I could have done it without Virginia. You can reach her at (510) 287- 8789 or virginia at happy birthing, vicki

I reccommend that you contact Joan Bryant, Birth Doula 925-947- 1938 or Doulajoan at We hired her for the birth of our daughter in August 2003 at Kaiser Walnut Creek (where she was also an birth educator at the time.) She was invaluable in helping us get through a very long labor and difficult delivery. Feel free to contact me with questions. Andrea

I highly recommend Betsy Appell. She was with me for most of my long, hard labor in October 2004. I was at Alta Bates, but I know she's worked at WC Kaiser. My labor was unmedicated, and Betsy's techniques for reducing pain were amazing. She is kind, empathetic, experienced, and calm. And a very good listener. Her website is I hope this birth will be easier for you. Beatrice

I sent a personal message to the woman requesting a doula for Walnut Creek, but I also want to send a general message about our wonderful doula, Betsy Appell ( I had my son in February after a very long labor, and my husband and I are incredibly grateful that we had Betsy with us. She is amazing. She is very calming and has a wonderful bag of tricks to help you through your labor. She also helped us make decisions when curveballs were thrown our way. I don't know what we would have done without her. I definitely recommend her! I'm happy to talk in more detail with anyone that would like more info. Shannan

I am excited to give my highest recomendation to Doula Paula Santi. She was my Doula for my two day labor in September 2004. Her approach is very intuitive - she was very in tune with me and my needs - giving me the space and support I needed without my having to ask. I don't think it would have been a positive experience had she not been our support person (and my labor/delivery was very difficult - not progressing, swollen cervix, suction, meconium, etc.). She was an incredible support for me and my husband during the two days. She was with us until the baby was safely in my arms and she provided excellent post partum care as well. She lives very close to Kaiser Walnut Creek. She can be reached at (925) 933-5002 or doulapaulasanti at If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me. Michele

I hired a wonderful doula -- Betsy Appell ( -- for the birth of my first child in October 2004. She does births at Kaiser Walnut Creek, as well as other hospitals in the East Bay. Betsy\x92s expertise, perceptiveness, responsiveness, friendly manner and support directly contributed to a larger baby, a natural childbirth and incredible confidence and peace of mind for my husband and me \x96 both going into and the actual birthing process. She\x92s really, really, really great and I recommend her as highly as possible. Lori

I would like to highly recommend Betsy Appell as a doula for Kaiser Walnut Creek. She assisted at the birth of my son in March 2005 and did an amazing job. Betsy helped my husband and I write our birth plan, and we were able to follow it exactly, which was far beyond my expectations! I was able to have a natural birth with no medication, and I don't think I would have made it through without her expertise and encouragement. (And my son was large, 9lb 11oz.) Betsy was also a great advocate for us with the nursing staff and my midwife, Julie Haymes (who I also highly recommend).

In addition, her hypnobirthing course was a great resource for pain management techniques and she recommended we do perineal massage, which I believe greatly reduced tearing at birth. I also took her prenatal yoga class and enjoyed that immensely as well. Betsy's website is ekkoster

We had a great experience at WC Kaiser with our doula, Betsy Appell. I cannot recommend her highly enough. Betsy was recommended to us by good friends who had also used her as their doula. She calmly and reassuringly explained things to me when I was facing an induced labor and was incredibly supportive to both my husband and me during the labor and delivery. We really credit her for the wonderful birth experience I had. She also had a great rapport with the delivery nurse and midwife at WC Kaiser. They even commented afterwards that I was really lucky to have such a great doula! I also highly recommend the ''Make Your Partner Your Doula'' class Betsy offers. My husband and I took that class instead of the Kaiser childbirth prep class and felt like we were really well prepared. You can find out more info about the class and Betsy herself at Or email me if you have questions. She really is great! sally Sally

Hello, Congrats on your pregnancy. I would highly wholeheartedly reccomend Anne Delp. She is absolutely amazing. She helped me deliver at Summit (8/04) but will travel to Walnut Creek. As a matter of fact, she assisted a woman there this past Monday! She is tender, encouraging, supportive, funny, flexible, centered...I can go on and on. She also enjoyes taking photographs so if you are interested in capturing the moment she took many priceless photos unobtrusively and I am glad she did. The photos she took were breathtaking. Feel free to contact her at annedelp at or (510) 482-1557. Good luck! Libby